versión impresa ISSN 0042-9686
Bull World Health Organ vol.82 no.10 Genebra oct. 2004
Surveys suggest new ways to improve mental health
Two new reports found that appropriate public health measures and social programmes can prevent mental and behavioural diseases, while early identification of serious disorders can result in more effective treatment.
WHO said that the two reports, which were released on 20 September at a conference in New Zealand showed how better nutrition, factors such as improving access to education, paying attention to the quality of environment and housing, and strengthening community networks can have a beneficial effect on mental health.
Dr Catherine Le Gales-Camus, WHO's Assistant Director-General, Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health, welcomed the reports' findings.
She said that health professionals and planners were often so preoccupied with treating people with mental illnesses they sometimes neglected others who were likely to develop them. "We need to intervene sooner, when people are still on the cusp of having a problem," Le Gales-Camus said.
One example of early identification of potential mental problems was psychosocial programmes in schools. The reports showed how school-based programmes such as these can lead to decreased prevalence of conduct and substance-abuse disorders.
Mental and behavioural diseases are estimated to affect one in four individuals during their lifetime, according to WHO statistics.
The two new reports were presented at the 3rd World Conference on the Promotion of Mental Health and the Prevention of Mental and Behavioural Disorders.
Texts of the two studies, one entitled: Prevention of Mental Disorders and the other: Promoting Mental Health, are available from: www.who.int/mental_health/evidence.en/